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State awards 'green' status, funds to Whately, Wendell

Whately and Wendell are the latest Franklin County towns to be designated “green” by the state.

Gov. Deval Patrick has made seven new communities eligible for more than $1 million in grants for local renewable power and energy-efficiency projects.

Whately will get $137,950. Wendell will receive $138,125.

They have joined 110 municipalities across the state with the designation. Nearly half of Massachusetts residents, or 45.2 percent, now live in a Green Community.

“This is good news for Whately,” said Town Administrator Lynn Sibley. “We will put the money to good use.” The town plans to use the money to upgrade the lighting in the fire station, the highway garage and the S. White Dickinson Memorial Library and place an energy management system at the elementary school.

Earning the designation was a hurdle for the small farm town. It had started reducing its energy use two years prior to the grant program. These earlier projects — including an upgraded fuel system at the school — could not be counted toward the town’s energy savings to earn the green status because the savings had to start in 2011. This made it difficult to scrape up enough savings to reach one of the qualifying criteria — reduce energy use by 20 percent in five years.

With the help of Green Communities staff and an energy audit conducted by Selectman Paul Newlin, the town found that upgrading the lights in municipal buildings would accrue enough savings.

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